When did it surface?
Is it right to lay the blame
on a fly in my DNA, a crack in the egg,
a badly-placed step in the dance of the sperm?
Did it seep in while I swam in neo-natal simplicity?
Is it lack or a perverse surplus; missing mineral or toxic germ,
or is it quickening depletion?
Can’t slake my thirst.
Oozing through a bruising birth canal,
keening for unseen freedom, did I forget to collect
my nourishing any-time drinks?
I started to burst
Lying naked at the wide end of space,
thin flesh tingling with echoes, did I relish or regret
my clamorous exit from the womb?
while mother nursed
My mouth spelled an O
around a milky breast, my ready tongue reached to feed –
did not the food fulfil my need?
and dreams were rehearsed
ignored each command, did they steal
my core of stability?
and knowledge reversed
When my expanding brain saw
that the world was not me, and I was not the world
did abandonment hurt?
and faith was submersed
When young fingers
plucked springtime flowers that died,
did I mourn mortality?
and pain interspersed
When oak trees
offered me gifts that I could not reach,
did the distance scrape me?
and thunderclouds cursed.
When I tried,
yet failed to describe my existential angst,
did I itch to die?
When a slick film
thickened over whimpering blood – a second skin to protect me,
did it block entry to the piece which was missing?
for the limits of verse.
How can it be
that even as I embrace life, my lungs
would like to cease breathing?
Still the ache of thirst;
can’t slake my thirst.
©Jane Paterson Basil